This was also written for mwpp_mischief. I don't own anything, just love Harry Potter.

It started at the first Christmas party the Black Family held.

No one had ever assumed that 12 Grimmauld Place could possibly look as Christmas-y as it did on December 22nd 1970. There was garland hanging from all the staircases, a giant tree in the living room, and depressing classical music floating from room to room. It didn't look merry so much as it looked as if careful planning made it ready for people to eat dainty food and dress up in proper clothing and fake smiles throughout the evening.

Regulus loved his house like this.

Other people (mainly his older brother, Sirius) would say that it was dispiriting, dark, daunting. Regulus preferred melancholic, heartbreaking, somber. There was something eerie, something completely off about his house that he loved. There was something in the way the thick garland wound its way around pillars and doors, something about the dreary Christmas music, something about the busy looks in his parents' eyes.

He was dressed to the highest in respectable clothes—all collars and vests and robes of dark green. He padded around the house in his squeaky shoes, careful to walk in between all the guests, missing the ladies' fashionable cloaks by a hair.

The house was packed to the brim as Regulus weaved his way in and out of the crowds, looking for his older brother. Packs of purebloods hung about, and he gave a quick smile to his cousins, Narcissa and Andromeda, who stood by the punch table with bored expressions on their faces.

"Have you seen Sirius?" he asked, jumping up and down like most 8 year olds do, "I've been looking for him but.."

"Calm down, Reg," laughed Andromeda, "he's probably talking to Auntie, or eating something. You'll find him."

Regulus left soon after that, embarking on his mission to find his brother. Sirius always knew where the best food was and how to stop talking to people you didn't like much. Sirius was his one and only idol.
He ended up finding him near the stairs, talking to a boy with glasses and messy hair.

This was Regulus's first encounter with James Potter.

At first he wouldn't notice the smile on James's face, or the way he talked loudly in a faint Northern English accent, or how he pushed his hair back with his hand nearly every minute.

The first thing Regulus noticed was Sirius. The second thing was the fact that Sirius's tie was undone. And the third, and final thing he saw, was James, grinning at the young boy.

"This your brother?" he asked, rather unnecessary as the similarities between the two were uncanny.

"Yeah, this is Regulus." Sirius smiled at his younger sibling and ruffled up his hair. "Bit of a thing in my family, being named after stars and all that."

"It's cool actually." Ten year old James stuck his hand out for Regulus to shake, "James Potter. Pleasure to meet you."

Regulus gave his brother a strange look, probably wondering why he was hanging around with this boy in the first place. He shook the stranger's hand briefly, trying to look older than he was so that Sirius might take notice of him and leave this James alone.

Later he wouldn't be able to remember what his first physical contact with James Potter felt like.

-.-

Regulus met James next nearly a year later. He had all but forgotten about the boy, although he was mentioned in several of the letters Sirius sent to him. Regulus had skimmed most of them, painstakingly jealous of his brother and how he was at Hogwarts and got to be brave and all that.

His mother and father had made him dress up for the trip to the train station because it was Christmas break, they said, and Sirius needed to be reminded of what his life looks like.

Regulus was old enough to understand that Sirius had made a big mistake when he was sorted into Gryffindor.

When he first saw his brother appear off the train, jealousy made itself known at the pit of his stomach.
But his next feelings were a lot kinder, a lot more centered on the fact that Sirius was home, that he wasn't going to be by himself anymore.

His mother and father were too busy scoffing at the crowds of people around them—the half bloods with their easy smiles and love of children—to notice when Sirius didn't directly head towards them. Regulus did, however, and followed his brother with his eyes, watching as Sirius talked to two older parents that looked vaguely familiar to him before heading in the direction of their parents.

Excitement bubbled in his stomach as Regulus tugged on his mother's sleeve, pointing to Sirius. He was about to call out to him when he noticed the boy by his brother's side.

The scrawny boy.

The messy boy.

The happy, childish, brilliant boy.

Jealousy washed all over Regulus again and, although it was still directed at Sirius, it wasn't about Hogwarts anymore. It was about James. Because, dear Merlin, this boy looked like fun. He was grinning, and fixing his glasses, and playing with his hair, and looking around with bright eyes in a colour Regulus had never seen before.

Sirius introduced the boy, the marvelous James, to his parents and told them that James was his best friend. A best friend. Something Regulus had dreamed about.

Regulus couldn't tell if his parents were pleased or not; they looked happy that James was pureblood, but unhappy over the easy going charisma he had. He was wearing a big Muggle jumper with a logo, something about a guy named Floyd who was pink, which made their faces turn a little green.

Regulus was surprised at how easily James recognized him, at how his eyes turned on him and how the big mouth full of sharp teeth and grins and laughter opened up and said, "Regulus, right? Nice meeting you again. You excited for Christmas?"

And when the younger boy did reply—when Regulus nodded and said, "Of course I am, I love Christmas,"—James actually listened to him talk about this chess board he wanted and how his uncle was maybe going to give him his old broomstick. James nodded and said he loved flying, more than anything.

James eventually left to go home, sharing a grin and quick little mate hug with Sirius before saying how pleased he was to meet everyone and how he wished Regulus would get his broom. Sirius and James leaned in together one last time, promising to visit one another and all that, before James finally walked off, waving as he went.

Sirius's face fell as he watched his friend walk away and was overwhelmed at the fact that he'd have to go home now, but Regulus didn't really notice. His father grabbed both of the brother's roughly by the arm before Disapparating.

Later he wouldn't be able to recall how long he watched James walk away.

-.-

It was finally his time to go.

He'd listened to countless rants from his parents saying the same thing over and over -don't end up like your brother, you're better than that. He'd heard horror stories for two years from Sirius about the teachers and the ghosts and the tests they make you do. He'd been told numerous times from James that he shouldn't worry, that Hogwarts was the best there ever was.

He had his stuff all packed in his trunk two days before September 1st. Sirius had scoffed; he hadn't even started packing and flaunted his Hogsmeade trip letter in front of Regulus's face.

"I'm going to Honeydukes and the Three Broomsticks and The Shrieking Shack-" he'd go on all through dinner, making Regulus feel young and stupid and bored. He hated when Sirius did that—showed off how much better he was, how much more appealing he always had been to everyone.

Except Mum and Dad, thought Regulus. I have them. They hate Sirius.

The boy doesn't let himself think of James and his slight arrogance, but it was charming. It was somehow better than anything Sirius had ever been. He doesn't let himself think about how James would always, always be Sirius's best mate.

The day before the journey to King's Cross is scheduled, James comes over. Regulus doesn't even know, too preoccupied by his books and new robes and wand, until they come running into the room next to his around mid afternoon. They look like they've been rolling in a mud pit, and although the sensible side of Regulus is saying that mother won't approve, he himself just wants to scream about missing all the fun.

"We'll have races like that in Hogsmeade all the time, eh Sirius?" James called from the other room.

"Definitely!" Regulus sat by his door, not really eavesdropping but listening in. He could picture them, lying side by side on Sirius's bed, all sweat and smiles, "It's going to be a rocky year with Reg there but-"

"Why would you say that?"

"Cause the kid will probably end up in Slytherin and you know how they are." Regulus found himself wanting to contradict the statement, wanting to plead with Sirius and James, tell them that he wasn't evil and neither were Slytherins. Ambitious and cunning, Andromeda had told him. Clever, was the only word Narcissa could find when he asked her. Better than anyone and leave me alone, was what Bellatrix had left him with at the last family gathering.

There was a bit of quiet talking that Regulus couldn't hear before he heard a knock at his bedroom door. He opened it to see James smiling, crinkling his eyes up at the corner.

"Hey Reg, we're going walking. Going to try out that new restaurant place near Covent Gardens for lunch. D'you want to come?"

If Sirius had asked, he would have said no. Sirius would have talked about how cool it was, and how he and his best mate were going, and if Regulus wanted he could come too. He would say this all in a tone that suggested he had no desire for his brother to go at all.

When James asked him, he wanted to go. And although the fear that Sirius wouldn't like it very much— that he'd scoff and try to pretend he didn't have a brother—although that fear was burning in his stomach, he still said yes to James, smiling back at the boy, and grabbed his coat.

Later Regulus wouldn't remember where they went or what they ate, only who sat next to him.

-.-

At Hogwarts, Regulus knew the rule. He wasn't allowed to talk to Sirius unless he went up to Regulus first. At the other side of the hall, Regulus would watch his brother, would watch the people surrounding his brother at the Gryffindor table, would watch James laugh loudly to the left of Sirius, always the left.

Regulus would watch this all from his position next to a boy he'd met named Samuel. He was from an old pureblood family and he was smart and sort of funny, but Regulus would give up almost anything to be sitting with his brother and James across the hallway.

So far they had talked once. And by 'they' he meant Sirius and himself. It was on Regulus's first day, after the feast in the Great Hall. Sirius had been bitter, so incredibly upset that Regulus wasn't following him into Gryffindor. He'd shouted across the Entrance Hall as Regulus followed the Slytherin prefect, angry and spiteful,

"Always pleasing the parents, eh Reggie?"

Regulus didn't know how to reply to that because in away Sirius was right. Regulus made sure he'd be in Slytherin; he worked on his ability to be cunning, and he was ambitious, was proud. But he didn't want Sirius mad at him for being who he was.

James on the other hand, always went out his way to be nice to Regulus. He was glad; James made everything more fun, and his grins were like wildfire to Regulus's inside. They made everything inside him warm. Whenever they'd pass each other in the corridors, there'd be a smile sent his way, or a nod, or a cheerful, "Hey Reg!" And every time this happened, Regulus Black found himself falling a little more for James's easy charm. He wanted to be James, he wanted to be full of smiles and around Sirius all the time. He wanted a best mate and a pirate's grin and messy hair that would never ever sit right.

Later Regulus wouldn't be able to recall when he stopped wanting to be James, and when he started simply wanting him.

-.-

Sirius sat down on Regulus's bed and looked towards the window.

"Look, Reg," he began hesitantly, "I know you still believe in this stuff, but really... you have to see through Mum and Dad's propaganda."

Regulus nodded once, but continued putting up with Slytherin poster with Sellotape.

"It's just that.. well, you're not in Gryffindor, so you don't understand as much.. but Mudbloods- I mean, shit," Regulus looked up to see his brother closing his eyes and gritting his teeth, "Muggleborns, Muggleborns.. I need to learn to say that. We both do. It's the proper way."

"Proper by who?"

"Well.. James always says Muggleborn."

"James." Suddenly, he wanted him here. Regulus wanted James here, right in front of him. He wanted the boy here so that James could tell Sirius off for being boring, so he could smile at Regulus just right, so he could propose an escapade outside where they'd be pirates or knights or fabulous wizards-

"Yeah, James, my best mate." A curious glance by Sirius was thrown his brother's way and Regulus returned it back with a true Black stare, one his father would be proud of.

"Jesus, Reg." Sirius stood up, approached him, put his hand on Regulus's shoulder. "You're too young to be looking like that. You're twelve for Merlin's sake."

"I'll be thirteen soon," was his automatic response. Thirteen and catching up to you, thirteen and tall enough to stand next to dad in the portrait, thirteen and old enough to hang about with James.
And as he thought that, like a miracle, James's voice floated through the door from the foyer, full of laughter and glee.

"Is anybody here then?" he cheered, shouting from beneath the two brothers feet, "Where's my Mr. Black today?"

Sirius grinned, almost immediately, as if all the happiness in the world had just walked through his doorstep. And unbeknownst to him, Regulus had too, smiling because finally James was here.

The two brothers raced down, Sirius in front. James was sitting on one of the old, hideous armchairs in their foyer, smiling like it was his birthday or something.

"Hey, mate," the older brother greeted, grinning back at his best friend, "what's the news then?"

"My house is really boring." His grin sharpened and Regulus couldn't help but look at his mouth a little, and Merlin, did James really have lips that red?

"I was just trying to tell Reg about the pureblood-centric stuff and how it's, y'know, bull shit and all that."

James's eyebrow goes up, the one that has the scar running across it, and shoots an eye at Regulus. His grin turns more gentle, more like he was dealing with a kid, and that hurts for just a second before Regulus feels these weird flutters in his chest, and he doesn't know what's happening until-

James claps a hand on his shoulder and gives him a wink. Just a blink of his longish, girlish eyelashes, just a slight second without hazel, before saying in a tone that is as patient as his smile, "I'm glad. Don't let them take over."

In a single look, a single wink and a single sentence James had managed to convince him what right and wrong is, something Sirius couldn't explain in long hours of dull monologues. James had showed him the way with a single smile after Sirius could not.

Later Regulus wouldn't remember exactly when he started to go under again, he'll just remember that not even James could save him.

-.-

James always has a Snitch in his pocket just in case he gets bored.

When Sirius starts playing around with it, he looks like he's trying too hard.

James likes to throw up peanuts and catch them before he eats them.

When Sirius tried this at dinner one night, it isn't funny or charming. It just looks stupid.

James is a fan of Muggle music and takes Muggle Studies because he wants to.

When Sirius walks around talking about Doctor Who and The Beatles and cars, no one believes he's serious.

Sirius is no longer what Regulus wants to be. Sirius is funny and good looking and smart, but nothing can beat James and his electricsmile.

Later Regulus won't remember what he saw in Sirius to begin with.

-.-

He was in Fourth Year now, relatively old but still childish. His housemates were talking about rumblings, brewing about darkness and lords and war, but for Regulus it was all about Sirius.

Sirius who wasn't home anymore, Sirius who moved in with James, Sirius who didn't bring his brother with him. And it took awhile to convince himself, but eventually Regulus realized, lying in his dark green four poster, that it was less about Sirius and more about the fact that James wasn't coming round the house anymore.

And at the thought of James, the perfectly amazing James Potter, Regulus felt this familiar flutter in his stomach. He couldn't understand it at all. Of course, he'd had it for ages, but it was different now. Whenever he saw James at dinner or in the hallways or on the pitch, Regulus's body would go into lock down mode, where all he wanted to do was jerk off.

And there was this one time when he passed James on his way to Potions and the boy, the spectacular Gryffindor, smiled one ofthose smiles, and Regulus wanted nothing more than to grab him and touch him and see if that skin by his ear was soft.

He can't help but feel disgusted at his own thoughts, the fact that he's thinking of a boy that way. But as Regulus stared straight up to the roof over his bed he just can't help it. There's nothing more appealing than James in front of him, nothing more appealing than him smiling or laughing or winking.

Before Regulus can help himself he's pushing his own hand down his pajama pants and stroking himself so lightly, wishing it wasn't his own hand, wishing the sheets around him were red not green, wishing James was lying next to him.

Later Regulus won't remember the night he admitted to himself of being in love with James Potter.

-.-

The dreams come every night without fail. They start at the beginning of fourth year and never truly stop.

There's the one about James tied to his bed by a Slytherin tie without any way of getting free. Regulus is biting up and down his body, trying to be playful, but it's not working because James is moaning and groaning and in every dream so far Regulus has lost it and just started fucking him too early, making them both sticky and wet and tired. James always tries, at the end, to touch him, to hold his hair or kiss his lips but the binds restrain him. After Regulus's heart has returned to its steady beat, he releases James, watching him rub his red wrists, and allows James to kiss all down his body, biting on his stomach. He'll flip them over and it starts all over again.

Then there's the Quidditch fantasy—the dream that James would catch him in the shower one day after practice and he'd lean Regulus backwards, with the water pulsing over them. Regulus would have a second of fingers pushing until James was inside him, and holy Jesus, it always felt good. James would reach a hand around and tug on Regulus's cock until he himself came, pressed up against the shower wall with James whispering in his ear. They would wash each other with soap, making sure all the spots were clean, before drying each other off as well.

The one he has most often is the jealousy one, where Regulus sees James with Sirius. James apologizes over and over and over, getting down on his knees. Regulus is in control for once. He makes James take him in his mouth, those beautiful reddish lips sliding over Regulus's throbbing cock, the long tongue twisting around him, placing his hands on Regulus's hips. James would try to restrain him, but the hips work on their own accord and James will be choked more than once. Regulus would order James to suck until he came, to swallow every last drop, to not touch himself in any way. And then he'd push James down and bite him, make him scream his Sorrys, make him gasp in pain. When it was all over James would crawl towards Regulus and beg his master to let him come, and Regulus would stroke James once, twice, thrice was all he would need.

But his favourite, his favourite of all the fantasies, is the one that starts on the morning after. James is sleeping next to him, one arm slung over his waist, and Regulus is just lying in the bed, letting the sun hit his face. He wakes James with a kiss on the neck, smiling at his lover, his boyfriend, his best friend. They get up eventually, all smiles and kisses and cute remarks. Regulus makes breakfast, ham and eggs, while James showers. He sets the table and waits for his James, and he's there immediately with wet hair and a fresh grin and a quick kiss -morning, love- They eat breakfast, with James going off to work at the bookstore and Regulus runs off to his job at the Ministry, and say goodbye next to the fire. And there's no Sirius, no brother or best friend to speak of, and James kisses him and makes him dizzy and leaves him with a -I'll pick up milk. I love you- And everything's so fucking perfect.

When Regulus wakes up, sheets covered in sticky wetness, he'll try not to remember James fucking him when he sees the boy at breakfast. He'll try not to think of blowjobs and sexy grins and kissing.

Later he won't be able to remember the jealous dream, or the Quidditch one, but he'll always remember James telling him that he loved him.

-.-

It was the perfect metaphor.

James was the sun. He was everything bright and important and warm. His presence was the reason people smiled, the reason the darkness fell away. Nothing could block him out completely except the world. But he was always shining, always somewhere, making someone's day better. And maybe, just maybe the sun would realize this at times, and would lose a little brightness because he knew he was life. But that didn't matter, because nothing could survive without the sun, no matter how fond the sun became of himself.

The sun would never be shut out effectively, not even at a lunar eclipse, because Regulus –hiding out by the lion- would always see it, see the bright star burning for all it was worth. Regulus was bright too, he could have been the next biggest, the next best, right after the sun. And maybe, just maybe, if that had been so, the sun would have noticed him a little more.

But that was where Sirius came in, perfectly incandescent Sirius—the star that everyone would always remember. The brightest one you could see from earth, the twinkling smile from heaven, the one that scientifically measures up to twice as big as the sun, but in reality falls a little too short.

Later Regulus wouldn't remember this speculation, only how much he wished to be lying under the sun.

-.-

He can't remember how he got here.

He's on the ground, his nose hurts like hell, and he's in a place that is unfamiliar. He can see Sirius leaning over him, furious. The words that fall out of his mouth are full of uncharted anger,

"What're you doing here, Reg? This isn't your house, don't you get that? This is where I live, not where we live. You can't just walk in the door whenever you fucking want to-"

"Sirius."

His voice instantly calms Regulus. He's the reason Regulus is here in the first place, the only person Regulus knows he trusts. When his parents yelled at him tonight, when they told him he'd end up like his brother, and how he'd better get a move on and join the Death Eaters before it was too late, it had hurt so much. When all this stuff was thrown at him there was only one person he wanted to turn to.
James.

"Sirius, leave him alone."

"James." Sirius looks up at his best friend as if he's crazy. "He stands for everything we hate, he stands for my fucking family and everything I can't fucking stand-"

"Sirius, he's your brother," James walks over to Regulus, still lying on the floor, recovering from his own brother's punch, "and I don't care if that doesn't mean anything to you now, but it will one day."

And James is helping him up, dusting him off, making the sun rise and the darkness set, and good bye Sirius, goodbye Regulus, goodbye unhappiness and cruelty and depression so deep it cut him. Regulus was saved again, saved by his sun, his star, his fuckingangel.

He doesn't think before he does it.

He's in James's arms before anyone could ever stop him. He's crying, crying like a little child, and clutching at the sharp brilliance of James. The body he fastened himself to is still for a moment but after a second or two arms go around him, hands cup his head, and James starts whispering to him, promising Regulus that everything would be okay.

He's never believed anyone more than at that moment.

James, his personal angel, manages to convince Sirius that Regulus needs to stay, that he needs to sleep in a sanctuary for just one night. There's a lot of looks that go back and forth between the two of them, and even though it still half belongs to Sirius, James takes over the flat. He makes Regulus a bed on the couch and apologizes for Sirius. He's still awkward around him, but Regulus wasn't expecting anything different.

Before he leaves for his own bed, Regulus grabs James hand a looks him straight in the eye. Hazel. The colour he'd never been sure of when they first met was confirmed. They were hazel and they were beautiful.

Regulus wants to thank him, wants to apologize, wants to get on his knees and give James something he would never forget. But he doesn't need to because somehow James understands what he wants, what he needs. He nods and gets up off the couch, brushing his hand in Regulus's hair, wishing him a good night, telling him not to let any bed bugs bite. Regulus laughs, he can't help it, and his sleepy eyes follow James until the door is completely shut.

It isn't eleven seconds before Sirius is on him, pushing him down on the couch and screaming in a whispered voice,

"You're in love with him, aren't you? You little slut, you little bastard!"

Regulus tries to deny it, tries to fight back, but he can't and he won't.

"You've loved him from the start, haven't you? I should have known! All those times you fucking popped out of nowhere, all the times you stood around the house! You little sick, twisted-"

It's all true, every word, and Regulus can't help but see the irony that Sirius was the one to sort through the lies.

"-prat! What would Mum and Dad say, eh Reggie? Don't think they'd be happy for you, do you? I can't believe after all this time, after everything James has done for you over the years, all you've ever wanted was to get in his pants like some kind of whore-"

"I don't!"

There's a slight silence after Regulus gasps this out. His skin is trying to crawl away from Sirius and his sharp fingernails, and oh gods this is worse than when Regulus tried to get James out of his mind in sixth year. He went to the Hog's Head and some man picked him up and got him drunk and called him pretty. He'd tried to say no, but the man fucked him so hard he was sore in the morning and ruined him, ruined his first time that should have been kept for James, only James-

"You don't what? C'mon, spit it out, you little fucker!"

Regulus swallows before speaking, "I don't want him for sex. I've only ever.. loved him.. wanted him as a-"

"You're not in love with him okay? Get that through your brain!" Sirius is really shoving on him now, madder than Regulus has ever seen him, "He doesn't love you! He will never love you! He pities you, you little bastard! He always has and he always will and he will never, never love you!"

Regulus can't feel the tears that sting his face. He can't feel it when Sirius lifts off him and walks away. He can't feel his heart, still there somehow, ripping itself apart.

Later he'll remember exactly why he left five minutes after Sirius was gone.

-.-

He's heard of the wedding. He's heard of the kid. He's heard of James, beautiful pure James, falling in love with Lily Evans, the Mugglebor- Mudblood from school.

He's heard all of this, but now he's heard something different, something about a prophecy and the swirling of unknown things and Merlin, there's only one thing he can think of doing.

He leaves 12 Grimmauld Place, having made up with his parents after finding out there wasn't any hope for him, with Kreacher early in the morning. He looks back on his house, the place where everything started, where his life began in more than one aspect.

He isn't sure if it's going to work. He hopes against hope that someone, anyone, will be able to continue after him, so that no harm would ever come to James again.
Sirius can rot in hell.

The island and the water and the green liquid in the basin make his stomach turn, but as Kreacher, the one thing on this planet that fucking loves him, pleads for him to stop, he just thinks of James.

James, who is funny.

James, who is clever.

James, who is brave and lucky and lovely.

And when Regulus is pulled into the freezing water by those haunted hands, he doesn't put up a fight. He's already dead when he starts drowning, his soul's already gone when the darkness takes over.

Later Regulus would wonder why he never told James the truth.

-.-

Later Regulus would cry when he saw James fall.

Later Regulus would turn his head away when he watched Sirius go laughing through the veil.

Later Regulus would watch the sun set and let the stars take him.

.end.